Under the Oak Tree

Chapter 447 - 208
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447 Chapter 208

Lowering his visor, Riftan fixed his keen gaze on the giant of a man standing opposite him. Richard Breston, who had been posturing arrogantly with his bloodied sword resting on his shoulder, shifted slowly into an offensive stance.

The humid air was heavy with the man's palpable bloodthirst. It was clear that he had no interest in a mere contest of swordsmanship; his sole objective was to obliterate his enemy.

Riftan angled his sword, preparing himself. The clamor of the frenzied spectators began to fade as his senses honed in on the beast before him. White breaths escaped the man's mouth in slow whiffs, like a dragon about to breathe fire.

These thoughts raced through Riftan's mind, just as the northerner charged at him with explosive force. He swung his sword, feeling the impact resonate through his shoulder with what sounded like a clap of thunder. The force of the attack was that of an ogre striking with an iron mace.

Riftan widened his stance to hold his ground. The enormity of the northerner's greatsword, twice the size of an average claymore, was intimidating in its own right. In the hands of a man clearly descended from giants, the weapon struck with the force of a battering ram.

Gripping his sword hilt with both hands, Riftan pushed back, but his opponent refused to budge. blood-red eyes gleamed behind Breston's visor as he let out a cruel laugh.

"How disappointing. Is that all the famed Dragon Slayer can muster?"

Riftan subtly shifted his sword to divert Breston's. Then, pivoting half a turn, he thrust toward the opposite side. But Breston was quicker.

Having dove forward to dodge the attack, Breston swung from below. The long blade scraped the ground as it whipped up like a whirlwind. He was wielding blade aura.

Riftan twisted sideways, narrowly escaping the blow aimed at his chest. Undeterred, his adversary lunged again, bringing down his weapon with tremendous force. Riftan leaped back to create some distance. The greatsword sliced through the air before lodging deeply in the ground. The arena trembled as if struck by a meteorite.

Riftan retreated, avoiding the splashes of mud and adopted a defensive stance. His opponent gritted his teeth as he yanked his sword from the hole it had formed in the ground.

"What are you playing at?" the man bellowed, his enraged voice reverberating around the stadium. "Do you still think to claim an honorable victory against me?"

Ignoring the taunts, Riftan's eyes sharpened, seeking an opening. Seemingly infuriated by his composure, Richard Breston charged like a raging bull.

"I want a fight to the death! A battle to decide the fate of mankind! This shoddy excuse for a fight will not stand!"

His massive blade came hurtling down toward Riftan's head. Riftan sidestepped the lightning fast attack and countered with a diagonal swing, briefly throwing off his opponent's momentum. Yet, the northerner quickly crouched and swung his sword sideways before Riftan could strike back.

Riftan barely intercepted the blade aimed at his head. Just then, a piercing chill crawled over his skin. He recoiled as a searing pain lanced his right wrist. Frost had encrusted his gauntlet and vambrace.

It doesn't appear to be magic.

After flexing his fist open and closed, Riftan cast a quick glance at the podium. If the high priests had detected any magic, they would have promptly stopped the match. Seeing that none of them were moving, Riftan surmised that the frost was an inherent power of Richard Breston's greatsword.

Switching his weapon to his left hand, Riftan moved with the caution of a wolf circling its prey, waiting for the right moment to pounce.

Breston, his sword pointed at Riftan, taunted, "You look like a well-trained hunting dog."

Riftan gave no response.

"Where is your warrior's rage? Reuben III's puppet, the Duke of Croyso's plaything, and now a pawn in the pope's chess game. I doubt even livestock would be as obedient as you."

Riftan kept his focus, unswayed by the provocations. His lack of reaction twisted the northerner's face into a demonic sneer.

"A caged beast survives on what its master feeds it," he snarled, "but a wolf uses its teeth to kill, an eagle its talons, and a buffalo its horns. Man, on the other hand, was given swords and armor for war."

Breston's greatsword began to emit a white glow. Lowering his stance, he shouted viciously, "You have crushed my - our ambitions. Now, Riftan Calypse, you shall pay!"

The giant leaped skyward. It was an astonishing feat for a man of his size, especially in heavy armor. Riftan dove away as Breston landed with a thunderous crash, forming a crater and splashing mud like waves.

Seizing the moment of Riftan's momentary blindness caused by the debris, Richard Breston shot out and launched a relentless attack. Riftan, steadily retreating, paired each wild swing. Fury ignited in Breston's eyes upon realizing his opponent's strategy to maintain control while waiting for the right moment to strike.

The northerner gritted his teeth as he furiously slashed his sword. "Do you think you've made something of yourself now because the people call you Wigrew's reincarnation?"

After narrowly blocking an overhead strike, Riftan gripped his sword with both hands and pushed back with all his strength. He could see his opponent's arms trembling.

Breston, pressing further, hissed, " Act like a knight all you want, but you'll always be an outsider!"

Riftan gave one last shove, causing Breston to stagger back slightly.

But the northerner quickly locked swords again and spat, "Your mother was a pagan whore, and your father depraved enough to dip his wick in her." Then, laughing mockingly in Riftan's face, he added, "And you are the spawn of such shameless beasts."

With a burst of explosive power, Riftan pushed him back and lunged. Breston scrambled to defend himself, but it was too late.

Riftan's blade sliced through his armor, leaving a long gash across his arm and chest. Yet, Breston seemed almost delighted to have finally elicited a reaction. He roared with laughter as he counterattacked.

"Does the truth sting?"

Riftan deflected Breston's sword and aimed a thrust at his exposed chest.

Breston blocked it just in time, continuing to jeer, "Want to hear another truth you don't know?" His voice dropped as if he were about to share a great secret. "The red-haired wench is just as much a whore for spreading her legs to a lowborn like you."

Something inside Riftan snapped. Before he could make a conscious decision, his body reacted, sending the giant of a man soaring through the air. Breston arced toward the stands but, fortunately, hit one of the support pillars instead. Nevertheless, the startled spectators began fleeing in panic.

Unfazed by the chaos, Breston leaped to his feet, laughing uproariously. "Now you're ready to fight for real!"

With that, the man hurled himself into the arena. Riftan met the human cannonball head on, their swords clashing with such force that gusts of wind swept through the stadium.

Riftan felt the icy chill from the white greatsword seeping into his fingers. Not caring whether his armor froze over, he pushed back, then swung his arms wide. Breston blocked it, but had he been a fraction slower, he would have been cleaved in two.

Breston gave a toothy grin. Drunk on the thrill of successfully baiting his opponent, the man appeared almost euphoric, oblivious to the fact that he had narrowly escaped death.

With a mighty leap off the ground, Breston swung his sword in a horizontal arc. Riftan, reacting swiftly, dodged by turning sideways and countered with his own blade.

As he slashed the northerner's thigh, the man lifted his long, muscular leg, landing a hefty kick to Riftan's abdomen. It was like being rammed by a raging bull.

Forced to scrape the ground with his sword to stop himself from falling, Riftan then faced Richard Breston's charge. Mud spattered everywhere as the giant man ran at him. Instead of dodging, Riftan widened his stance and readied his sword. As a vast shadow loomed overhead, he swung diagonally with all his might, sending Breston back like a topplied scarecrow.

Seizing the moment, Riftan pounced on the fallen giant, thrusting his sword between the man's shoulder and chest. The blade pierced through flesh and muscle and embedded in the mud below.

Pinning him down with a knee to his chest, Riftan spat, "Yield now if you value your life."

Breston began to tremble erratically. Laughing in the mud, he goaded, "Go ahead. Kill me."

Riftan was narrowing his eyes in the silence that followed when he jerked back as Breston knocked his head against his. With blood now trickling down his forehead, Riftan placed more distance between them.

But Breston sprang to his feet with the vigor of a wild beast and immediately crouched into an offensive stance. "I should let you know that I'm not the sort to accept defeat."

Riftan clutched his forehead as he silently observed the man.

"There will be no yielding," Breston growled with the ferocity of a predator scenting blood. "This duel does not end until one of us is dead."

"I see," Riftan finally responded, frustration evident in his voice.

With renewed determination, he lunged forward. The northerner raised his greatsword to intercept, aggravating his shoulder wound and soaking the combat uniform over his armor with blood. Even then, he refused to back down.

Breston swung his greatsword in a wide arc, seemingly indifferent to the risk of permanently losing the use of his arm. Madness had taken hold, one that cared little for tomorrow. Riftan was certain that the man would not regret dying by his hand.

Riftan sent heat to the tip of his blade. Dark red energy coursed up the murky metallic surface like pulsing veins. Sensing the imminent threat, his opponent also readied his final blow.

Gripping his sword hilt, Riftan shot across the wrecked arena, as swift as the wind.

Richard Breston swung first. The white blade, emitting frosty energy, descended like lightning toward Riftan's head. Riftan countered, striking the blade just above the crossguard, causing Breston's giant arms to recoil slightly.

This was it; Riftan aimed straight for the exposed chest. The impact, like a boulder being struck by an iron mace, sent the man crashing across the mud. As Riftsn straightened, Breston was on his knees, clutching his stomach and spewing blood.

Riftan gazed down at him and said calmly, "It is my victory, Richard Breston."

"Horseshit! I have yet to-"

Breston abruptly stopped to look down at his sword. His eyes widened in shock. He was grasping a bladeless hilt.

Riftan kicked the severed blade toward the man. "You seem eager to rampage like a beast, but I don't care what you want."

The white greatsword, the Breston family heirloom believed to be forged from dragon teeth, slid through the mud to rest at the northerner's feet.

As he stared blankly at it, Riftan added, "I am a knight." When Breston raised his head, Riftan met his murderous gaze steadily. He continued slowly, "As such, I shall abide by the code of chivalry and show mercy to my opponent."

Breston said nothing.

"I had many chances today to end your life, but I chose not to. Remember this, Breston - you live only because of my mercy."

The northerner's eyes flashed red with rage and humiliation. After quietly watching him, Riftan leaned in and said gently, "Live out the rest of your miserable days, bearing the weight of this humiliating defeat."

With his face twisted in humiliation, the man sprang to his feet, seemingly ready to continue to fight despite his injuries.

Riftan was about to raise his sword when the trumpet rang out across the overcast sky. The match was over.

"Th-The final victor...is Sir Riftan Calypse!"

As soon as the announcement was made, armed Temple Knights flooded the arena, with Sejuleu Aren among them. Facing Breston, he said, "If you wish to preserve what is left of your knightly honor, I suggest you accept your defeat."

The northerner's red eyes flash dangerously. After seething like a cornered beast, he finally turned and walked away. His forearm bled profusely, leaving a crimson trail on the ravaged arena floor. Knights from his order hurried to assist him, but he roughly shoved them back as he stormed out.

It was then that the audience, who had been collectively holding their breath, erupted into cheers.

"Rosem Wigrew d'Calypse! Ascalon's new master!"

Riftan sheathed his sword and looked to the section reserved for nobility. He easily spotted his wife's pale face among the exuberant crowd. Though she sat regally, her head held high, Riftan knew she was barely holding herself together.

Just then, a gust of damp wind swept past him, brushing against her slender form. Strands of her previously immaculate hair loosened and gently fell around her face.

In his mind's eye, the image of a young, lonely girl seemed to superimpose itself over his wife's. The moment was fleeting, however, and the scene soon morphed back into the noble lady, looking down at him with concern and affection.

Taking a deep breath, he exhaled slowly. This stadium would not be the stage of her dishonor. He had not fought for the pope, nor the peace of the Seven Kingdoms.

He had fought solely for her, and he wanted everyone to know it.

This chapter is updated by freew(e)bnovel.(c)om

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